The first recorded reference to Parmigiano-Reggiano dates back to 1344 in a purchasing ledger for a prior's refectory. That comes as no surprise given that the monks of Emilia-Romagna were long experimenting with cheesemaking, including double-heating the milk to produce Parmigiano-Reggiano's signature pasty consistency that would eventually harden into dense drums. Far more intriguing is that the second oldest reference to the cheese can be found in Giovanni Bocaccio's 1353 masterpiece, The Decameron. Through Bocaccio's work, we get a glimpse into life in medieval Italy, including how they ate: "and there was a whole mountain of Parmigiano cheese, all finely grated, on top of which stood people who were doing nothing but making macaroni and ravioli."
Claims have been made that Parmigiano-Reggiano has been made according to the same recipe for over 800 years. Real Parmigiano-Reggiano can be made only in specific regions from mid-April to mid-November. This ensures that the milk used comes from cows who were pastured on fresh local grass. The cheese is hard, gratable and sometimes crunchy with deep, rich flavors, which heighten any food it graces.
Owned by the Folezzani and Carburi families, the La Villa farm is located south of Parma and keeps 300 Brown and Red Alpine cows, which produce milk known for high protein levels. An organic, farmstead operation, La Villa manages its own feed and produces 4-6 wheels of Parmigiano per day -- up to about 1,700 per year -- all of which are ripened onsite.
Farm / Company: La Villa/Rogers Collection
Milk Type: Cow
Milk Treatment: Raw
Aging: 18-20 months
Size(s): 80 pound wheel